1. Lucky Bay, Esperance
As if the azure Australian waters kissing pale sand aren’t photogenic enough, Lucky Bay also offers close encounters with kangaroos. The macropods are often seen early in the morning and late evening, coming down to enjoy three miles of bush-free bounding. Lucky Bay has safe swimming, good camping and views of sculpted headlands.
Best for: The ‘roos of Instagram. Catch the perfect pic of them while they’re basking in the sun.
2. Shell Beach, Shark Bay
Shell Beach is comprised entirely of Fragum erugatum shells — a fingernail-sized version of the humble cockle. The effect is staggeringly beautiful; a vast drift of a single shell species collected over millennia. The beach gleams bone-white against hyper-saline waters that refract a shifting pallete of blues and greens.
Best for: Inexperienced swimmers. There’s little tide and the twice-normal salinity means you float more easily.
3. Cottesloe beach, Perth
This beaut cusp of surf and silica’s a Perth institution. After a 15-minute train ride from the city, follow the pilgrimage of bronzed young things from the station to the peerless Cottesloe combo: a rambunctious wave perfect for bodysurfing, and a 1920s beach bistro called Indiana.
Best for: Sunset viewing. Terraced lawns are packed out for the moment when the sun bows out. Local bars and restaurants provide a good night out.
4. Yallingup Beach, Yallingup
Western Australia has some of the best surf in the world. Yallingup Beach is celebrated for its main break off South Point, Rabbits’ beach break and the powerful barrels of Smiths’ Supertubes. Yallingup also offers some sublime swimming conditions, especially at the serene, clear lagoon to the south, which is great for snorkelling.
Best for: Surfing. The town has boards for hire if you’re experienced and surf schools if you’re not.
5. Cable Beach, Broome
This 12-mile beach comes alive at sunset in three distinct ways. At the town end it becomes a social hub: people picnic on the lawns and the Cable Beach Resort opens its Sunset Bar for drinks. It’s also when the famous camel trains make their nightly trek. And, finally, it’s the hour when the ‘fishos’ take their 4WDs onto the sands and bunker down in their favourite angling spots.
Best for: Having it both ways. The Broome end is social; the remaining 10 miles offers pure seaside serenity.
Published in the Western Australia guide, free with the May 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)